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Best Practices, Careful Planning Can Ease the Transition to a New Accounting System

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sooner or later, every business is faced with the daunting task of upgrading its existing accounting software, or migrating to a new system entirely. The task is never without its complications, and every upgrade or migration is different depending on a wide variety of factors, including your business processes and the new software that you’ve chosen.

But here are a few tips that can make the process less bumpy, and get you up and running on a new system in no time.

Know Your Workflow

Understanding and documenting your workflow is a crucial first step in any accounting system transition, according to The Resource Group, a consultancy based in the Seattle suburb of Renton, Wash. What can seem like an overwhelming amount of effort in the beginning has the potential to save time, ensure the accuracy of numbers and data, and streamline financial communications over the longer term. It’s also the perfect time to make any adjustments in workflow that you’ve always considered, but never had the time to make in the past.

Gather Information

PC Magazine suggests gathering all the data you’ll need beforehand, such as payroll and tax information; customer and vendor lists; and a list of users and their various permission levels. Also, make sure you have the resources in place before the installation: Do you have the right computers, with compatible operating systems and processing capabilities that your new software will require?

Before you start migrating data into the system, check to see what file formats are accepted or encouraged for uploading, such as CSV or Microsoft Excel. You may need to format your existing data into one of the accepted file formats prior to the data migration.

BMRG, which consults with accounting firms nationwide, suggests that it’s also a good idea to run a test migration to ensure your data is coming over appropriately. Once your test data is live, run it through its paces through invoicing, reporting and other functionality.

Set a Go-Live Date

Once you’ve run through some test data, set a firm date for transition to the new system. Your legacy data will be migrated one last time to the new system, and you’ll take advantage of the lessons you’ve learned from your extensive testing.

Virtually every accounting software program has a set-up or migration tool, but be prepared for some curveballs along the way. It’s a good idea to invest in some detailed reference books that can be used as quick, handy resources for any issues you encounter. In a perfect world, the software would anticipate every need and situation, but when in doubt, look it up. Also, take advantage of any help resources that your software vendor offers.

Create a Super-User

Now is the perfect time to designate one person as a "super-user,” a go-to authority for your new software who also has the highest level of permission for the system. Make sure they receive adequate training and documentation – both before and after the installation – and that they understand their responsibility as a resource for the rest of your staff if questions arise. The super-user is your first line of support for staff members; if the questions can’t be answered at that level, it gets escalated to technical support at the software company.

Training Plays a Pivotal Role

It’s strongly advised to put together brief training sessions for your staff. This not only gets everyone off on the right foot, but also ensures that everyone is following the same practices and procedures. Some users may not react well initially to the new software, the change in workflow or the impact on their daily routines, but training will help ease the process.

It’s Not Over Even When It’s Over

A successful conversion is just the beginning. Adjusting your new software and your workflow will be an ongoing process. Stay flexible; you’ll learn more about the system as you go, and be able to optimize it for your needs.

Remembering a few best practices – and managing everyone’s expectations before, during and after the software migration – will ultimately pay off in a system that will serve your needs over the long term, as well as making sure you won’t have to do another migration anytime soon.

Tags:  accounting  executive management professionals  management 

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